Junkyard Find: 1991 Toyota Cressida

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

After Americans proved uninterested in buying the luxurious-for-its-time Toyota Crown during the early 1970s, Toyota brought over the new Corona Mark II, then gave its American-market, Chaser-based successor the Cressida name starting in the 1977 model year. The Cressida remained King of Toyotas in North America throughout the 1980s, but the appearance of the Lexus LS400 for the 1990 model year changed everything; Cressida sales collapsed. However, we could buy new Cressidas here all the way through 1992, and I’m always looking for the rare early-1990s models during my junkyard travels. Here’s a ’91 in Denver.

The early Toyota Celsior/Lexus LS400 looked very similar to its Cressida cousin, but it was 400 pounds heavier, 50 horses more powerful, and equipped with a much more modern suspension and a brace of futuristic electronic gadgetry. In 1991, the MSRP on a new LS400 was $38,000, while the Cressida cost just $22,198 (that’s $73,850 and $43,140 in 2021 dollars, respectively). If you wanted a rear-wheel-drive Japanese luxury sedan at a good price, the Cressida offered a lot.

The Cressida was much more closely related to the Supra than it was to the Celsior, sharing its straight-six engine and suspension design. This is the 3.0-liter 7M-GE, rated at 200 horsepower in 1991.

I still haven’t been able to determine the last model year for a Cressida with a manual transmission in the United States, but it was long before the 1990s and perhaps as early as the late 1970s. Naturally, many American owners of these “four-door Supras” have swapped in five-speeds by now.

Cressidas tended to rack up absurd mileage totals before being retired, but this one never even made 200,000 miles (or its odometer broke 15 years ago, which I find unlikely for a Toyota of this period).

The interior probably looked good before ravenous Cressida-owning junkyard shoppers tore it up in their frenzy for trim parts.

I’m surprised that no Supra owner has grabbed these alloy wheels, which still have their original center caps.

It has the heart of a lion!

Its JDM counterpart got ads like this one, possibly cannibalizing a few Celsior sales.

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Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Eng_alvarado90 Eng_alvarado90 on Mar 08, 2021

    I remember these Cressidas because a cousin had one. It was a hand me down from her parents which actually bought that one used for not so much money in the late 90s. They were upgrading from a 1987 Camry so the bump in luxury, power and quality was signifcant. I wasn't fond of the exterior light blue color shade but I loved the plush seats covered in royal blue leather. Oh I miss those non-grayscale interiors of the time...

  • Kevinbac01 Kevinbac01 on Mar 09, 2021


  • Tane94 Glad VW continues to invest in sedans and offer consumers fresh options, unlike gm, ford and Stellantis.
  • Mike-NB2 Is it safe to assume that they'll adopt the 241 HP iteration of the engine in the current GTI? The current version of the GLI is the first one not neutered to keep it below the GTI, so they might boost the power or not. I guess we'll know soon.
  • Tassos of all the GM vehicles I got to extended test drive in the 90s, the only one that was not god-awful was the Northstar Eldorado. I really liked it.Well researched comprehensive article, Corey.
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